Racing in the ten Olympic and two Paralympic events could not have been any better as the consistency of a 10-15 easterly breeze ensured excellent racing throughout the day.
The world’s finest sailing talent came to the forefront of their respective fleets with Hyères showcasing what it is all about.
Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) won gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca with a day to spare and they brought that same form into the first race day in Hyères.
Opening their account with a second they ramped it up for the day’s two other races by taking convincing victories in both races, “The day was really great, especially for a first day, ” commented Besson after racing. “The wind conditions were cool and we got a second and two wins. It was very perfect conditions.”
With the discard coming into play after three races the French have a small single point lead over Pippa Wilson and John Gimson (GBR) but lose a second compared to the Britons seventh. Despite looking good at the early stage Besson doesn’t think an early victory will be on the cards, “Oh no, ” exclaimed Besson. “With Marie we take it race by race and tomorrow is another race and same again the day after. We’ll keep our head clear and that’s all.”
After three races the points are extremely close with the top six all counting single number scores.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne winners and Mallorca bronze medallists Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (AUS) are one of those teams and whilst they were strong posting a 1-4-4 score line, Curtis found the day a bit of a learning curve, “We had this really steep uneven chop and I’ve never sailed in the cats in those conditions before and it was actually really cool to learn on the run and we actually won the first race.
“We’re pretty happy as all our results are keepers. That’s the idea, on the first day you want to get some keepers on the board and not use your drop up.”
The Nacra 17 is split into two fleets with further race victories going the way of Wilson and Gimson, Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond (GBR), and Thomas Zajac and Tanja Frank (AUT).
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) hold the lead in the 49er after two bullets and a discarded 16th but displaying superb consistency was Great Britain’s Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR).
The Brits took the first race win in the Yellow fleet and followed up with two third places and hold second overall. After racing Fletcher let his 1, 200+ Twitter followers on @GBR49erTeam know about his and Sign’s day, “Wicked day racing in Hyeres, 1, 3, 3 with the last race our best after a great first beat to get back into the race #teamwork #longwaytogo.”
And a #longwaytogo it is with 15 more races scheduled over the remaining five days of competition.
Holding third overall after the first day is Diego Botin and Pablo Turrado (ESP) followed by Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS).
ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca gold medallists Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) got their week off to a strong start after picking up two race wins and discarding a 14th.
The Brazilians are in familiar company atop of the leader board with many of the leading 49erFX sailors trailing them by a narrow margin.
Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) sit two points behind the Brazilians whilst Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR), who took the days other race win, occupy third.
2013 World Champions and defending Hyères champions Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) found their form after a disappointing week in Mallorca. Recording a second, a discarded 19th and a third they sit in fourth.
Greece’s Ioannis Mitakis came out of the traps flying in the Finn and after two races he has a five point lead.
The Greek racer, who won the Finn Europeans in 2012, took a second in the first race and then won a hard fought second as he explained, “Today was a really good day. I managed to stick to my plan from the start. I started both races by going left and the left paid off more.
“In the second race I had a problem with my sail as I decided to make a change last minute but I managed to do what I had planned in my mind and won the race.
“It was a quite close race. I passed the first mark in fourth place and then I found a way to pass those ahead of me. I’m really happy with my consistent day.”
The opening race win went the way of France’s Jonathan Lobert but a 28th in the second of the day sees him down in 13th place.
Milan Vujasinovic (CRO) and Caleb Paine (USA) occupy the remaining podium spots after the opening day of racing.
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) took two race wins and discard a seventh to grasp an opening day race lead in the 81-boat Men’s 470 fleet.
Belcher first made an appearance in Hyères in 2001 and with two gold medals behind him he continues to relish the French breeze, “Hyeres is a fantastic event. It’s a regatta we can’t afford to miss on the circuit and we always try to prepare the best we can for the extreme conditions.
“I think the timing is quite critical for us. We warmed up in Palma and we’ve come here in better shape. They run a really good regatta, we’ve got almost 1, 200 competitors and we love competing here.”
With two race victories behind them it’s easy to see why the Australians enjoy the French Riviera. In the opening bout they took the bullet by 21 seconds and in the third they edged out Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE).
The Greeks added a sixth and a fourth to sit in fourth place overall but Mantis was far from happy with his day, “If you don’t have a good start then you’ll start at the back. For us we managed with three bad starts, I don’t know what happened but our results were good.”
Despite their bad starts the Greek sailor explained why they recorded a strong line of results, “We like this kind of wind and we had good speed, that’s why. Finally I’m happy but we have to improve the starts because as the event goes on it will be more difficult.”
Onan Barreiros and Juan Curbelo Cabrera (ESP) are currently second overall followed by Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE).
Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) and Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA) took a race win apiece in the 51-boat Women’s 470 and hold the leading positions.
The Kiwis, who took gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao and Mallorca, continued their good form by taking the opening race win. An eighth place followed and after racing Powrie said, “We kept it pretty simple. We just got out of the blocks well and then chipped away from there. It was a top ten finish so it’s a keeper. We missed a few things on the first beat and we had to crawl back from there. We managed to come away with a decent result so we’re happy with the day.”
The Americans hold top spot having taken a fifth in Race 1 that was followed up with a bullet.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold medallists Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) are third overall.
If you blinked whilst watching the Men’s RS:X action you might have missed Poland’s Piotr Myszka as he sealed three consecutive race victories on the opening day of racing.
In the split 91-boat Men’s RS:X Myszka was a class above the rest in the yellow fleet and blew his rivals out of the water to hold an early lead.
Racing in the blue fleet was closer with three sailors taking the bullets. Kiran Badloe (NED), Dorian Van Rijsselberge (NED) and Toni Wilhelm (GER) took a race victory apiece. All three count results in the top six and trail the Polish sailor in second, third and fourth.
New Zealand’s Natalia Kosinska holds the Women’s RS:X lead after three races in Hyères. The Kiwi racer started off slow with a 12th place finish but bounced back with a bullet and a second that handed her the lead after she discarded her opening race result.
Poland’s Maja Dziarnowska was slightly more consistent than her Kiwi competitor with a sixth, a third and a bullet but with the discard in play she is a point behind. China’s Jiahui Wu is third overall.
Evi Van Acker (BEL) looked to banish her Mallorca demons as she took two race wins and a fifth to lead in Hyères.
The Belgian racer missed out on a podium spot at ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca as she engaged in a battle for silver with Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) in the Medal Race. She finished the Medal Race in 10th and fell to fourth, missing out on a medal.
A strong performance in the Hyères has put her on the right route at the early stage of the event.
Annalise Murphy (IRL) enjoyed the big breeze as she scored a bullet, a discarded 27th and a third to sit second overall. ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne gold medallist Tatiana Drozdovskaya (BLR) is third overall.
Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) took two race wins in the Laser and is the early leader in the 123-boat fleet. The French racer took two bullets from the day’s opening encounters and came through with a ninth in the third and final race of the opening day.
With two fleets the remaining race victories went the way of Robert Scheidt (BRA), Jesper Stalheim (SWE), Andy Maloney (NZL) and Matt Wearn (AUS).
Great Britain’s Megan Pascoe and Helena Lucas dominated ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami and Mallorca as they took a gold and silver apiece but the top of the leader board in Hyères is slightly different.
Heiko Kroger (GER) and Damien Seguin (FRA) took a race win and a second each to share the lead on three points. Pascoe was consistent with two thirds to sit in the final podium spot. Lucas meanwhile is down in sixth.
John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas (GBR) sailed consistently in the Sonar to take the early advantage.
The British trio recorded a third and a second to lead on five points. The race victories went the way of Jens Kroker, Siegmund Mainka and Robert Prem (GER) who are second overall and Australia’s Colin Harrison, John Harris and Russell Boaden who are fifth.
Racing resumes on Tuesday 22 April at 11:00 local time as the qualification stage for the split fleets comes to a conclusion.